Logic and Psychology Today Article about Black Women

LSAT Blog Logic Psychology Today Black Women ArticleA recent article in Psychology Today asked, "Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?" (alt link). It lead to a lot of uproar, which I won't rehash.

However, as I read through the article, I naturally began to construct counterarguments as if the article were composed of many Logical Reasoning stimuli. This is something I often do when I see flawed arguments.

It's also something you should do when reading any article containing arguments - especially when you see an article making strong claims without sufficient evidence and lots of assumptions, as this one does.

More than a few questions came to mind as I read this article.

I'll raise a couple of big ones to get the ball rolling, but I'd really like to see all of you analyze this more in the comments and have some fun identifying the various flaws in the article.


The interviewers:

Who were the interviewers rating the various women? To what extent are they representative of the population in general? How many interviewers rated each woman? How many interviewers were there?

The women:

How many women were part of the study? How was the race of each woman determined? To what extent was the sample of women representative of a particular state, region, country, etc.? Were the attractiveness ratings limited to facial features, or do they include body type?

The "explanation" and other unsupported claims:

In the final few paragraphs, the author makes a number of problematic and insufficiently-supported claims regarding BMI, intelligence, genetic mutation, and hormones. He concludes that the supposed racial difference in attractiveness is due to higher testosterone levels in black women because this is the only explanation he can imagine.

In order to improve his argument, he would need to first conduct a perfect (or close to it) study to establish his claim regarding attractiveness, addressing the questions I raised above.

Suppose he was able to do this (no easy feat, given the slippery and normative concepts of both race and attractiveness).

He would then need to systematically dismiss as many other potential explanations for his conclusion as possible. In his article, he only addresses a few, and even those are not supported or sufficiently explained.


Your Turn:
What flaws / information gaps do you see in the cited study?

What flaws / assumptions do you see in the author's consideration of (or failure to consider) potential alternative explanations?

What flaws / assumptions do you see in the author's selection of one potential explanation?

What, if anything, did the author do well in making his argument?

What could the author have done better in making his argument?

What could the author have done better with the information at his disposal and/or his topic in general?

Photos by Wikimedia Commons and MiKeARB


  1. Ignores the possibility that the group of black women chosen for the study may have sub-par ratings for attractiveness when compared to most other black women (i.e., the fallacy of composition).

  2. Interestingly, the author chose to focus his study on asking the same people the same thing three times over seven years. I would like to know how often the people actually changed in their idea of attractiveness and how that change in data was implemented in the results.

    Since we have no idea how many people participated and where the studies took place, this whole study could be very misleading. If the people surveyed were in an area with very few African American women the results might also prove that because of their relative scarcity, most of the people surveyed had spent most of their lives attracted to someone of their own "race" and would therefore be highly unlikely to vote African American women as being attractive. Likewise, these women would feel very rare in such a place and might then value themselves as being more attractive as a result of their perceived scarcity. Not that this situation is necessarily the case, just showing how the evidence can also point in another direction.

    It also fails to point out whether the photos of the men and women were of people typical to their surrounding areas or whether they were photos of people generally regarded as being attractive in the first place (actors, musicians, models, etc.).

    The study also has a huge gaping flaw in that most people do not necessarily select certain races as being more attractive than others, but instead look at the individual to make their assessment. Along these same lines, there are certainly people of every "race" whom the majority would vote as attractive or unattractive, and choosing one or the other to show the participants would skew the results.

    The information given in the article most strongly supports which one of the following?
    A) The author is an idiot
    B) The author is an idiot
    C) The author is an idiot
    D) The author is an idiot
    E) The author is an idiot

  3. It's a sad day when BW in general are just considered unattractive. No other race of women are dehumanized like a BW. I concur, the author is an idiot. S/N: if this argument is on the LSAT I'm doomed. Lol!

  4. Wow, what a racist piece of crap article, Steve you are so wicked for annihilating it.

  5. thanks for this. of course this article is b.s. and of course the reasoning is flawed. :) racism has a lot to do with why black women are considered less attractive than other women, but we cannot talk about that without discussing socioeconomics and other variables.

  6. I also wanted to add that is an American study by Psychology Today. Any first year sociology/anthropology class will tell you the dominant class and racial group is surprise surprise White in North America and one could even say that the Aryan ideals of beauty have permeated throughout the world...leading to such degrading but popular products such as skin lighting creams, surgeries to make Asian eyes more 'white' looking etc. I could go on and on.

    This study itself revealed that most Black males/females regard themselves less attractive than other races really? what a surprise! Anyone heard of the term 'internalized racism'. I am from Vancouver, BC and a lot of the First Nations (or as you call them 'natives') have similar feelings about themselves, not surprising after 700 years of racism/genocide.

    The point is: you do this study in Uganada and you won't be getting the same results. The cultural, socio-economic setting of America influences whoever these interviewers/interviewees perceptions of beauty are.

    Last note on BMI. If you live in a drought stricken starving area, you think your skinny ass will get you all the males?? Think again, fat demonstrates your fertility and your health. In this society, we can eat our faces off and being skinny is a marker of wealth b/c you have the time and the money to eat healthy.

    All these more nuanced issues were never discussed in this shitty article.

    Alright enough of my ranting.

    Peace out,


  7. Hi Steve, very interesting article. I went to the site of this article, but I didnt read all of it. My family is racially mixed, my mom is half white and spanish, french and black, my dad is french, spanish and black. So, that makes me a Gumbo baby lol mixed with everything. Everything goes into a pot of gumbo. But, back to the article when I saw the guy who wrote the article and realized he was asian, I said really? How dare you? I believe all people are beautiful no matter what their race is.

    I agree with you, who were the participants of this survey and what were their sizes, complexion and height. People are very visual and tend to look at the outward appearance of a person and not the heart. But, we are talking logic. I will have to go back and read this article again fully, but it has a lot of flaws in it. You inspire me to be the best attorney and always find the truth no matter what! Have a great weekend, and thanks always for your blog.

  8. This is awesome at how you take such an asinine article by some idiot and decompose it with the use of logical reasoning! I have found a new approach to reading the garbage that is posted and authored by the masses. I'm so excited for my LSAT studying now because I can use these things I am learned and analyze anything!!! You rock!

    And SN, beauty is and always has been in the eye of the beholder. So ladies if you do not behold yourselves beautiful, ask yourselves what will others see? Its full of fallacies and poor logic...#fail. I'm a proud African American (consequent of my American birth and mixed lineage which can probably be traced to slavery lol) and men of all races have told me I am beautiful...but hey, if someone allows this crap to affect them, they were already damaged anyway.

  9. Nothing like an article about race to bring foaming at the mouth, knee jerk political correctness out of otherwise normal people. Relax and take a Valium. Despite what you've been force fed by your politically correct masters there are differences between races...both physical and mental. Go watch the Olympics and compare champion weightlifters to Olympic sprinters. You think its a coincidence that the best Olympic power lifters come from eastern Europe and not Kenya? You think its a coincidence that the best sprinters in the world are of African descent and not south Asian? You seriously think in the last 80,000 years since homo sapiens left Africa to populate the world that they haven't changed? Go read the Bell Curve and open your mind.

  10. I also find it disturbing that it is not pointed out that the majority of black women in America are in fact white as well (glaring flawed assumption). A native black Nigerian looks very different from most "black" people in the USA--not to mention that an Ethiopian person looks very little like someone from West Africa. 80% of black people in the US are white. This clearly throws off the data. A researcher through blood analysis would have to classify one's percentage of black heritage. This could lead to very interesting results, but this study does not further any knowledge on beauty. Is it the "being perceived as black" that makes a black or biracial person seem unattractive to white and Asian men? Or would a biracial person be MORE attractive than the black woman? Would a black woman with no white heritage look MORE beautiful than the majority of "black" Americans?

    Also, as mentioned above, ethnicity greatly affects someone's appearances. Greek, Spanish, Italian, Nordic, Turkish, Armenian, and Irish people are all "white", but one can usually tell a Swedish person from a Spaniard.

    Future studies would be interesting, but I question the utility of these studies...and would fear they could be used to sell creams and surgeries to people who could alter their skin color, hair, facial structure, etc. The majority of Mexican politicians already lighten their skin to look more European, and many paler white people darken their skin with bronzer or-- worse-- by sunbathing or tanning which causes cancer and aging. God help us.

  11. BTW, I (the person who wrote the above comment) am not the same "Anonymous" that posted the "take a Valium post before mine. The Bell Curve is a great read, but the previous author fails to point out that The Bell Curve IS scientific and points out its shortcomings, whereas this article is NOT at all scientific. We cannot just post articles in magazines with very little evidence to support our claims and then tell people to "chill" when they question their findings or methodology.

  12. No offense, but the claim that black men are slightly more attractive than men of other races ("net intelligence") also seems very, very suspect and goes against other research. There was a recent study done on dating profiles which included gay men and women in the study, and more profiles of gay men state "not attracted to black men" than of any other race, including profiles of gay black men themselves. This does not mean that attractiveness is the exclusive reasoning for this, but I would imagine it's a factor. Blond haired and light haired men are contacted by women more than any other.

    I would agree with the poster above that seems to question how someone is described as one race or another. The fact that Halle Berry and Mariah Carey are considered "black" by society and not "white" is humorous and slightly disturbing and clearly throws this evidence (which say nothing of these societal errors) into highly questionable territory.

  13. The biggest flaw in the article: It offers a politically incorrect conclusion.

  14. If black women are so unattractive why are most black americans of mixed heritage? There must be something that is attracting the moth other than the flame. Maybe large lips and round behinds; its not always the face that draws the eyes.

  15. It blows my mind that someone took the time to write an entire article dedicated to something like this. It reminds me of how in high school my brother's teacher said that "it's a fact that european people are more beautiful than africans are." I don't get how people can be so shallow but I kind of do. The world is absurd.

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